At halftime in the Blazers' game against Blake, Blair co-captain and senior goalkeeper Erika Pelz-Butler was mad. She shouted at the team, admonishing them to push upfield, to pay attention to the game and not lapse in any aspect of their game. The pep talk seemed to do the trick, as the Blazers scored three goals and shut the Bengals down in the second half to secure a 4-1 victory.
Blair showed dramatic improvement over previous games in its aggressiveness on offense and also on communication all over the field. In one-on-one matchups, the team dominated Blake consistently, winning balls in the midfield, an area where the girls had struggled against their previous three opponents. The Blazers worked more as a team, watching each other and threading passes where, in earlier games, they had kicked the ball seemingly at random.
The team still showed some weaknesses. Early in the game, a defensive lapse allowed the Bengals to draw first blood. It was an ugly goal, as a Blake forward challenged a deserted Pelz-Butler and stumbled through the Blair keeper's diving block attempt. Also, the Blazers had trouble finishing for much of the first half, despite numerous offensive breaks. "The first half we played very uninspired, as we have much of the season. We didn't capitalize, as we have much of the season," said Coach Robert Gibb.
In the second half, however, the girls quickly picked up the pace following a decisive penalty kick by junior midfielder Vicky Dean that bounced off the left goalpost and into the net. The goal galvanized the Blazers, and they never let up their pressure on Blake's tandem of keepers from then on. "At half time, I basically told the girls that they weren't working hard enough, that it was time to start doing it this year like we did last year, like we know we can," Gibb explained after the game. "In the second half, we created lots more chances, and we started getting in and getting hungry, finally."
The Blazers' third goal came in a shuffle at the goal line. The Bengals' keeper blocked the initial shot but senior forward and co-captain Nicole Gray pushed it through. The fourth and final score came with the game winding to a close. Senior midfielder Rebecca Feiden slammed a kick into the goal from the top of the penalty box. Although the outcome of the game was not in doubt, both players and fans erupted in cheers.
The victory over Blake improved the team's record to a frustrating 1-2-1 for the year, with close losses to Whitman and Wootton, two of the county's top teams this year, and a breathtaking, double-overtime tie against a much-improved Richard Montgomery squad. Of the team's early struggles, Feiden said, "We're all frustrated that winning this year hasn't come quite as easily as it did last year. It's been hard for us to move on and focus on our goals for this season."
Gibb was upbeat about the game. "It's encouraging, it's something to build on," he said. "It's good to get our first victory, even though it took us four games to get here."
The Blazers' next game is Oct 9 at Sherwood High School at 7:00 p.m.
Luke Bostian. Luke Bostian is a senior in CAP and has nothing much to say for himself. Well, actually, that's a lie. Luke has a lot to say for himself and says it all the time. So he won't bore you with it. Suffice it to say … More »